Cancelled add-onThe planned add-on The Lost Vale was all but finished and ready for duplication before it was cancelled in September 1994 due to poor sales of the main game. In September 2005, a prototype of the game box appeared on eBay and was sold for almost 2000 dollars. Its authenticity was confirmed by Origin artist Denis Loubet. More information on The Lost Vale, including a scan of the box, is available at PC Games That Weren't.
EngineThe Pagan game engine was recycled in Origin's Crusader series.
PentagramRichard Garriot used pentagrams as gameplay element because he thought the superstitions - many people believe pentagrams summon the devil - are ridiculous. During development, a few people actually left Origin because of this. After that, Garriot used the pentagram on the cover which caused some US retailers like Walmart to refuse carrying the game.
PlotIn the previous games, Avatar is rated mainly on compassion and doing good deeds. In Ultima VIII, the Avatar must turn all four planes of existence upside down by destroying the Titans of each plane, in order to escape. Many fans believed that this storyline ran counter to the spirit of the Avatar and the entire Ultima series.
ReceptionPagan was not well-received by long-time Ultima fans. A large number of them ridiculed the action and platform elements of the game, dubbing it "Super Avatar Brothers". The alternate nickname this game was known by is "Super Mario Avatar". Only a different wording, but still making a point about the gameplay and jumping puzzles.
Richard Garriott, the producer of this game, admitted himself that it was released too early, incomplete and with too many bugs. The patch Origin released soon afterwards corrected most of the issues and made jumping easier. The CD ROM release is already patched.
- Like Ultima VII, the game contains a reference hinting at the mighty corporate power of Electronic Arts. In Mythran's abode, a magical, morphing object appears, which continuously changes shape between cube, sphere and tetrahedron, and labeled differently during each change. These are the items the former EA logo was made out of.
When double-clicking the item, the avatar kneel and says: "I have not the strength, nor the wisdom to master such power... but one day I shall!". Obviously, Richard Garriott was behind this.
- Check out the graves on the graveyard - on one of them there is the following epitaph: "Here lies Arnold. Hasta la vista baby!" An obvious reference to the movie Terminator 2.
Release historyAt least in Europe, there were two different releases of the CD-ROM edition (not counting the budget releases). The first one came in the same box as the floppy disk release, with a "CD-ROM" sticker added to distinguish it from the floppy-based version. It included the speech pack, but was the same otherwise.
The second version had a redesigned box and was released in 1995. Unlike the first CD-ROM edition, this one was fully patched to fix all the bugs and plot holes that the game originally had.
TitansThe names of the four Titans are Greek words, that correspond to the elements the Titans represent:
- Pyros (fire)
- Lithos (earth)
- Stratos (air)
- Hydros (water)
Tumbling AvatarIn the original release of Ultima VIII there was the feature, that the Avatar, when hit hard in combat, fell on his back and had to get to his feet again before he could continue fighting. They later removed this in the patched version because players considered this very annoying. But you can still watch this feature when fighting a creature named Changeling. If the Changeling has taken the shape of the player and so you are fighting "yourself", the false Avatar will still fall on his back when he gets hit.
- Computer Gaming World
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #20 Worst Game of All Time